Gun Maker Seeks to Seal Docs in Sandy Hook Suit

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CHRISTIAN NOLAN, The Connecticut Law Tribune
July 6, 2016

Remington Arms Co., the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, has asked a Connecticut judge to seal certain portions of the discovery materials from public view in the high-profile lawsuit against the company.

The plaintiffs include nine families of those who died in the December 2012 shooting and survivor Natalie Hammond, who claim the gun makers acted and continue to act negligently in their production, marketing and sale of the firearm.

Remington's lawyers, in asking for the protective order in a court brief filed Monday, claim the plaintiffs have asked for information through discovery that could hurt their business.

According to the brief, Remington claims the plaintiffs' lawyers are seeking marketing and sales strategies, the number of firearms manufactured and sold by model, and firearm design drawings and engineering specifications.

Remington also seeks to protect from public disclosure the names and addresses of firearm purchasers on sales transaction forms.

"Disclosure of confidential information in these categories to the public generally and Remington's competitors, specifically, will directly harm Remington both competitively in the marketplace and financially," wrote Remington's lawyers.

Remington's team of lawyers is led by James Vogts of Chicago's Swanson, Martin & Bell. Vogts is assisted by Andrew Lothson of the same firm, as well as Scott Harrington and Jonathan Whitcomb, of Diserio, Martin, O'Connor & Castiglioni in Stamford.

The Sandy Hook families' legal team is led by Josh Koskoff from Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport. The plaintiffs have until July 12 to respond to Remington's motion.

"Transparency is the cornerstone of our civil justice system and this case should be no exception," said Koskoff. "With that principle in mind, we will evaluate their motion and respond accordingly."

More than 18 months since the lawsuit was filed, the first sworn depositions will take place over the next two days, with Koskoff and Katie Mesner-Hage, of the same firm, deposing members of Remington's marketing and sales teams.

In April, a state judge denied motions by Remington to dismiss the case. Similar motions to strike were later filed by Remington, which were argued before Judge Barbara Bellis last month. Bellis has roughly four months to issue her ruling on the latest motions. If the judge denies the motions to strike, the case is scheduled for trial beginning April 3, 2018.